Unless there’s a radical change in the polls over the next month or two, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is in little danger of being booted to the curb by Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon. But even if she doesn’t manage to take the Governor’s office, it’s looking more and more as if Nixon will have a lasting effect. The Empire State’s Democratic Party is currently undergoing an identity crisis as some of the most vocal and established activist groups square off against one another in a fight to see whether they should veer further to the left or stick with mainstream, machine politics which have kept them in power. And some of those voices are already picking sides, seeing something in Nixon which rings a chord in their Berniecrat hearts.
One example was forwarded to my mailbox this morning and it’s from the New York branch of a group called Citizen Action. This decidedly liberal organization boasts offices all around the state and their membership numbers are impressive. They focus on virtually every issue where a liberal definition of “justice” can be applied, so they have some very real grassroots lifting power. And they’ve come out with an endorsement of Nixon and her running mate, Jumaane Williams. But it’s more than just an endorsement. It’s a double barrel broadside against Cuomo, accusing him of causing all the ills facing the state’s residents. I’m including most of the text here since it’s not all that long.
People are tired. Tired of out-of-control rents that are forcing them out of their homes. Tired of seeing children year after year attend schools that can’t afford the basics, while the gap between wealthy school districts and poor districts grows wider and wider. Tired of public transit that doesn’t deliver. Tired of our democracy being hijacked by billionaire campaign donors. We know we can do better. People are rising up and rejecting watered down legislation and half-measures that don’t get to the root of the problems our communities are facing.
Today, Citizen Action of New York is endorsing Cynthia Nixon for Governor of New York and Jumaane Williams for Lieutenant Governor. Cynthia and Jumaane aren’t just candidates, they’re life-long activists who truly believe in a bold vision of a New York that puts our families’ interests above those of billionaire CEOs. The political process in Albany is rigged, tipped in favor of wealthy campaign donors and corporate lobbyists, and against working families and communities of color. Political influence shouldn’t be measured by how much you’ve contributed to the governor’s campaign fund.
New York is one of the wealthiest states in the country. But for the last 8 years, Governor Cuomo has failed our public school students and let our democracy crumble, while giving billionaire CEOs and hedge fund managers a free pass. These things didn’t happen by chance. They happened because Governor Cuomo chose to pad the bank accounts of his rich corporate donors instead of standing up for the rest of us.
This is fairly remarkable. If you were reading this message and had no idea who Andrew Cuomo was you’d probably assume he was a Republican. He’s being accused of cozying up to the rich, punishing the poor, ignoring public schools and propping up income inequality.
These are signals which sound as if there’s at least a limited civil war brewing inside the party. It worth noting that Citizen Action is basically half of the support of New York’s Working Families Party (along with the state’s labor unions) so they skew very far to the left to begin with. But even the WFP endorsed Cuomo in 2014, albeit somewhat reluctantly and only after Cuomo offered them a few deals.
Does this sort of schism open the door for a Republican candidate? Probably not. In fact, I’d almost say definitely not. This fight is just taking place in the Democrat’s primary. Assuming Cuomo wins, enough of them will line up behind him for the general election. But these things tend to leave scars which take time to heal. And the fact that Nixon is running for statewide office, rather than just one district, will ensure that that the Democratic, internecine sniping will be lingering for some time to come.